The ‘flying brick’ that’s flying once again in historic racing
The Volvo 240 is enjoying something of a renaissance in racing, not least because there are now so many series and championships in which to race them – including every major historic racing event in the UK.
A not-too-revered ‘flying brick’ in its mid ‘80s Group A touring car prime, it has developed into something of a cult hero.
The 240 had been racing in a one-make cup in Sweden for a few years before a father-son team of VW racers turned attentions closer to home to tackle the European Touring Car Championship.
A 240 Turbo was initially developed by the Lindströms – Tage and son Thomas – and began to make tentative steps into the BMW-dominated Group A era in 1983. Little more than road cars with which to race, the Group A regulations kept things simple (and the cards in the doors). Physically, the cars were little changed compared to the road-going equivalent, as the ETCC traded out the big Group 2s for the mass-production-derived tin-tops of Group A.
A secret Group A project behind the scenes at Volvo in Sweden eventually came to fruition in a bid to capitalise on the success of the Lindstroms, who by now were bothering the works Jaguars and BMWs around places like Monza.
The ‘Evo’ homologation special was commissioned, boosting the turbo, and its four-cylinder 2.1-litre engine crept ever nearer the 350bhp mark – an increase of 150bhp on the cup car and 200bhp more than the original 1981 road car. Forged pistons, aluminium cylinder heads were introduced and water turbo traction was invented.
Legendary team owner Rudi Eggenberger’s team was enlisted to run the works team in 1985 and victories and championships followed. Lindström and Gianfranco Brancatelli claimed the ETCC in 1985, becoming only the third different marque to win the championship in 11 years – nine of which were won by BMWs. In the fledgling DTM, Per Stureson made it a European double for the 240 finishing 17.5 points clear of Olaf Manthey.
Then came the all-conquering Sierra Cosworth RS500 and a persistent controversy over the ‘Evo’ models production run of 500 240Ts – or possible lack thereof. And the Volvos disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
The legend, it seems, has endured.
Price new: £8,690 (road car) Price now: £1,000-£5,000 (road) up to £220,000 (race) Rivals: BMW 5-Series, Jaguar XJS, Saab 900, Mercedes E-Class Heritage: A safety-first brick, lumbering, heavy and not a joy to drive – but ETCC and DTM champion regardless